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Meet the Radio Tracking Specialist, Christopher Lucash

Christopher Lucash Picture Chris has a bachelor's degree in zoology. He's responsible for planning, coordinating, and implementing the red wolf restoration and captive-breeding project in the southern Appalachians.

Prior to taking on the Red Wolf project in the Great Smoky Mountains, he worked with the red wolf program at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. He has also done gray wolf and white-tailed deer research in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota and ruffed-grouse research in central Minnesota.

He is married and has one stepdaughter. His hobbies are reading, gardening, spending time with his black Labrador retriever Otter, physical fitness of almost any outdoor variety, cookouts, and relaxing with friends.

Chris was the author of the journal from November 8–14, 1996.

Q: What kind of advice would you give to someone who wants to become a field biologist?

Be patient! Don't be discouraged by the stiff competition. Try to select a college or university that offers a Cooperative Program with the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Park Service. Diversify your academic training. Don't limit your potential with too narrow a focus. Get as much practical experience as possible before, during, and after college. Be willing to volunteer. You have to build your reputation as an employee as well as a student. Employers like people with a positive attitude, the willingness to work as part of a team, and the ability to "meet and deal" effectively with the public. Field biologists today are increasingly involved with public relations and education. Good social skills are as important to field biology as science.

Q: What's your favorite part of the job?

Releasing a pair of wolves from a pen and knowing that they found a den, raised a litter of pups, and are "out there" living the way they were meant to.

Q: What's the least favorite part of the job?

Capturing wolves and returning them to captivity when their only mistake was choosing to settle on property outside the Park boundary. Also, trying to convince landowners that a wolf did not kill one of their farm animals when he or she believes a wolf has.

Q: Why is it important to reintroduce wolves back into the wild?

Christopher Lucash Picture Wolves are a missing component of many damaged ecosystems. They are needed to help stabilize ecosystems. All animals and plants, as well as high-quality air, land, and water are necessary for a healthy and stable environment. Complete ecosystems are vital for human survival and quality of life.

Q: Could you tell us what a typical day is like for you working with wolves?

I spend a lot of time talking on the telephone and taking care of various administrative tasks with my supervisor and other people. I respond to requests from students, reporters, and the general public. I answer questions about wolves, coyotes, and other wildlife that people see or have on their property.

I also spend time in front of my computer, entering wolf information, summarizing notes, and writing reports and proposals.

When I'm in the field my time is spent radio-tracking wolves, trapping wolves that are out of the Park and talking to the residents that are involved. I also investigate claims of wolf-killed livestock and give tours and interviews to film crews and photographers. I give presentations about the Red Wolf Project to various groups.

I spend more time in the office than I like. When the office work is caught up, I try to get out in the field as much as possible.

Read my answers to many students' questions in my interview!

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